New York fashion designer and entrepreneur, Jevaughn Williams A.K.A. Mugzy McFly has always been fly.
The natural trendsetter would often offer tips to his friends while growing up in the Bronx, eventually leading him to leverage his popularity into a successful party-throwing venture. But that wasn’t enough. With a $1,000 credit limit and grit, Jevaughn took his passion for fashion and launched a t-shirt business in 2013. Since then, he’s managed to expand to a full line consisting of accessories, sneakers, and outerwear.
Born and raised in the fashion capital of the world, Mugzy grew up with a deep appreciation and a keen eye for fashion, first experimenting with creative design at the age of thirteen when he began hand-making apparel to match his favorite sneakers. Mugzy attended Johns University where he received his degree in accounting, a discipline that has largely helped set him up for success as an emerging entrepreneur and businessman.
Mugzy catches up with Essence to share his story of ingenuity and perseverance in a time when popularity often seems to outshine talent.
You were able to start and scale your business with no investors or outside financial backing. Do you mind walking us through that journey?
Mugzy: I used to promote parties so I used that money to launch my t-shirt line. While doing that, I read an article about some successful entrepreneurs that funded the start of their business by maxing out their credit cards. I did the same, not realizing that my $1,000 credit limit wouldn’t get me that far but my love for the brand carried me the rest of the way.
Would advise aspiring entrepreneurs to take the same route?
Mugzy: Not necessarily (laughs). If I had one piece of advice to offer, I would tell them to treat your business like school. Don’t rush to keep up with the microwavable success strategy that social media has created. Think about it; we have four years to be in school without making any money but to dedicate our time to learning. Learn about everything you can regarding your business for as long as you can (competitors, markets, etc.) and I promise, you won’t regret it.
Was it particularly difficult to get started in a field that’s so oversaturated?
Mugzy: It was but it wasn’t–I’m one of the most fashionable people I know and we’re in the Bronx, one of the most influential cities in fashion so I knew I could make a mark in the industry. Our culture even dictates what top celebrities wear. So, I just stuck to my guns, paid attention to what the market was doing, and tried to do the opposite. I operate from a mindset that prioritizes innovation and forward-thinking, which makes it easier for my line to be early adopters to new trends.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Mugzy: It was one of the most challenging times of my career but also extremely rewarding. I was still able to thrive and honestly, the pandemic just reaffirmed that I can survive through anything. The time of stillness also revealed that I needed to make a few changes to marketing strategy and highlighted the importance of creative digital marketing. It also highlighted how crucial customer service has been for my business. Because I’ve always prioritized the ability to consistently deliver for my clients, they remained loyal during a time when most fashion businesses had to shut their doors.
What are your thoughts on the stigma that Black-owned fashion businesses fall short in providing good customer service?
Mugzy: I have lots of thoughts on the topic, but it mostly comes down to this. Although Black people are mostly at a disadvantage due to a lack of generational wealth or a legacy of entrepreneurs in our family that we can draw business acumen from, we still have to value our customers.
I don’t wear the badge that I’m a black business owner. I want you to shop with me because I’m dope. A lot of Black people don’t have generational wealth or a legacy of entrepreneurs that we can develop strong business acumen from. I definitely think we should. I want to get to the point where I can train aspiring entrepreneurs to operate from a consumer-first perspective and drive more success in the long run.
We saw that Bernice Burgos is a big fan of the line, and you’ve received love from rappers Jim Jones and Maino. Are there any notable clients or customers that have shown their appreciation for the brand?
Mugzy: I was notified that rapper Young Thug wore one of my looks for New Year’s Eve and it is extremely humbling to see because he is currently one of the biggest fashion influences in hip hop. It just reinforced that I’m on the right path.
Are there any muses you’d like to see in the line?
Mugsy: Oh my God, the ultimate muse is Teyana Taylor — she’s so multifaceted and has mastered duality, ultra-femininity, and boyishness. She also understands the quintessential New York swagger you have to possess to pull off certain looks. I’d also love to see something on ASAP Rocky and Rihanna, who truly seem to appreciate fashion as much as I do.
I know you’ve made your mark in the New York market which is a tough nut to crack. Has the line reached a global audience?
Mugzy: Yes, we have a lot of interested international customers and we’ve begun taking steps to have a pop-up shop in Japan coming soon.
Any last words of wisdom to aspiring designers?
Mugzy: Be sure to remember the value of your brand and try not to get into this just for money. That’s not enough. Honesty, chasing a dollar is extremely costly. Lean on the love and it will all work out.